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Miami HEAT at Dallas Mavericks Official Game Thread and Preview

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670_heatmaverickspre_121220.jpg(Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez)

The Miami HEAT hit the road to take on the Dallas Mavericks at the AmeicanAirlines Center. The HEAT enter with a record of 16-6 and two straight wins. The Mavericks are 12-13 and on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. Tip off is set for 9:30 PM.

1. No Dirk (right now). No Terry. No Chandler. No Kidd. No . . . Stevenson. Is there anything left of the Miami-Dallas rivalry?

Couper Moorhead: From a player perspective, there really isn’t much left, but each organization is nearly identical outside of player changes and the fans aren’t going to stop disliking one another, so we can’t say this is just another game. Dallas is actually a fascinating entry into the post-2010 HEAT lore since not only did they defeat Miami in the NBA Finals, but within a year of winning the title they have effectively disbanded the team that won. The moves will likely turn out to be for the best in the long term, but outside of that first game last season, LeBron James and Chris Bosh will never get their chance to really battle this old foe in the playoffs.

Danny Martinez: To the fans of each organization, there will always be a little something there. That’s natural after two NBA Finals matchups. To the players, I’m not sure how much juice this one carries. The HEAT have moved on and won a title, while creating new rivalries along the way.

2. Buy or Sell: O.J. Mayo, hitting 51.9 percent from deep, is the best three-point shooter in the league?

Couper: Selling all the way. This has far less to do with Mayo than it does the simple probability of a career .388 shooter who handles the ball as often as Mayo making not only more than half his threes in a season, but scoring 1.3 points per possession on what Synergy Sports classifies as “guarded” jump shots. Mayo has kept this up long enough that it would take 44 consecutive misses for him to regress to his career norm, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he end up in the mid-to-low 40’s, but the chances of him keeping this up are remarkably low.

Danny: I love what Mayo is doing, but this is going to end at some point. I guess that means I’m selling. Mayo’s been about a 37 percent three-point shooter his whole career leading up to this season. Those first 1,272 three-point attempts are probably more truthful than the last 131.

3. What happens to this team when Dirk returns?

Couper: In short, they get better. This is a sub-.500 team right now with an overall point differential in the negatives, and few teams around the league could use a boost of efficient shot-creation than this one. There are still some awkward fits in this squad in what will probably end up being a transition year, but once Dirk gets up to speed they could run off some wins. Then again, Dallas is playing faster than most teams this season and Dirk isn’t exactly known for his up-and-down game, so it will be interesting to see if the starters become a slower unit while the bench, under the guide of Mayo and/or Darren Collison, remains high-octane.

Danny: Coach Rick Carlisle will let out a big sigh of relief. The Mavericks have done all they can without Dirk. They’re treading water right around the .500 mark. With Dirk, you have to think that improves some. Upon his arrival, Dallas will have frontcourt rotation of Nowitzki, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Brandan Wright. Not too shabby. I would expect Dallas to make a run at the playoffs, though health in the second half will probably have some say in the matter.

4. Quite a few people are jumping on the Norris Cole bandwagon. Is it too much?

Couper: I’m a big supports of Cole’s, particularly for his brand of pressure defense blended with solid awareness and help, but a lot of people are seeing what they want to see with his offense and ignoring what is really happening. Cole’s shot has much better arc on it this year – a good long-term sign – and he’s improving with his decision making, but there are still plenty of corners to be turned, including eventually making over half his shots at the rim. The good news is his usage rate is down so the misses aren’t hurting as much as they did last season, but Cole still has a ways to go on offense, and he’s fully aware of that.

Danny: Cole’s been playing well. Those on the bandwagon just need to be mindful that the offense still has a ways to go. Cole’s excellent defense has been crucial in second halves this season. He’s locked down virtually every guard that’s crossed his path. Unfortunately, he’s not winning the battle on the other end of the floor. Cole’s shooting and playmaking leaves something to be desired, but he’s acknowledged that they are things that he is working on. The exact player that Cole is now will have a long and successful career in the NBA. If the offense improves some, things will be even better.

5. Best defensive sign you expect to see tonight?

Couper: The Mavericks have one of the highest turnover rates in the league so there should be plenty of opportunities for the HEAT to get out in the open floor if they stay active on defense, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see a game full of smart and fast closeouts from Miami with plenty of made jumpers from Dallas regardless. Only Miami and Boston get less offensive boards than Dallas, so unless the Mavericks move the ball well and hit threes, this should be another step up for the HEAT’s defense. Again, regardless of actual results.

Danny: The rebounding issues against Minnesota ended up being the big story, but the HEAT’s defense forcing 19 team turnovers was the real eye-opener. In the previous game, the defense forced 21. When the HEAT’s rotations are tight and guys are making the right reads, the defense is truly scary. Against Minnesota, HEAT players were hawking passing lanes, closing out hard and causing plenty of skirmishes. The best sign tonight would be a repeat performance.

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OH Yeah! I love playing the Mavericks! Let's make their fans have a very unpleasant evening folks!

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OH Yeah! I love playing the Mavericks! Let's make their fans have a very unpleasant evening folks!

Hope the Heat take this game seriously though.

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I'd love to see MIAMI come out and play 48 strong minutes.I'll be keeping an eye on the rebounding battles as well,to see if MIAMI adjusted from last game.If MIAMI plays solid defense,the game should be rather fun for us HEAT fans...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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omg when lebron finishes alley-oops like that i literally jump up out of my couch...

Lol that was one of his more boring ones lol. Anyone trying to get in the chat but not working for them?

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Lol Wade can't even throw his outlet passes good tonight. Lucky LeBron Mossed everyone for that ball.

lol a lot of bad blood between u and wade so far?

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